The common man who believes in truth, fairness, reasonableness has no chance against those who dishonor the meaning of "justice for all."
Unfortunately for me, I became involved in something that I felt was mishandled by the Payson Police Department and I chose to make a stand, believing in the power of truth and justice for all.
The fraternal brothers, the judge and the attorney (all lawyers) in this case made sure that my complaint would never come before a jury of fair and honest citizens. They would use an illogical technicality to have my case dismissed to prevent the Town of Payson's Police Department from facing yet another embarrassing episode of failure, incompetence and abuse of authority.
As an example of the unfairness, untruthfulness and unreasonableness that I encountered from these people, I will tell you that the court had before them a "notice of claim," which is a requirement that one must first file before pursuing any legal action against a municipality and its police department. This notice of claim stated my complaint and my losses as a result of police misconduct that occurred in the Town of Payson. It was sent to the Town on March 23, 2007 by way of certified registered return receipt mail and the town clerk signed for the document.
On Oct. 10, 2007 during a hearing concerning the Town of Payson's "Motion to Dismiss," the court allowed the attorney representing the town to stand before it to make the false representation that the Town of Payson had not received this notice of claim yet and interestingly enough, the town attorney argued that my notice of claim did not provide a dollar figure to allow the town to assess its liability and to determine if it could settle this claim before having to appear in court.
How is it possible that the town attorney can deny the existence of a notice of claim and then ask the court to dismiss the case based on the grounds that my filed "Notice of Claim" had failed in some way to comply with the guidelines under the Arizona state statute? Something smells in Payson and it's not the fish pond.
The judge stated on record that my "Notice of Claim" included a dollar amount, but he was dismissing the case because as he said, and I quote, "This is a time for you to make what amounts to an offer of judgment in which you say this the amount of money I take -- I will take and the Town can say, ‘okay,' and pay it or they can say ‘no,' in which case you are free to sue all you want to."
The facts are that the Town of Payson never responded to my notice of claim that was sent to them via registered return receipt mail on March 23, 2007. The Arizona Revised Statute 12-821.01(A) only states that a notice claim shall contain a specific amount of money for which the claim can be settled. The dollar figure that I provided in my claim was the amount for which I was willing to settle this matter. The Arizona Revised Statute does not instruct the claimant to use the words "This is the amount I take" in his or her claim, as the judge stated in court.
When I asked the judge if my claim included a dollar amount, his exact words were, and I quote from the court transcripts, "I did see the dollar figures. There were several."
The truth is there were only two dollar figures, one for the loss of my home and the other for the loss of my job as a result of the Police Department's failures.
Any reasonable person would be able to add those two figures together and come up with a specific dollar amount upon which I would settle. Furthermore, the town would not have settled for the amount of my damages. To suggest otherwise is simply unreasonable and nonsensical.
During the hearing, the judge allowed the town attorney to speak freely for several minutes, but did not allow me the same opportunity. The judge in fact cut me off several times when I tried to defend myself against the misrepresentations made by the attorney representing the Town. Anyone who reads the public court transcript will plainly see this act of indifference. (CV 2007-0130)
It simply identifies, supports and confirms my opening statement that the legal system does not represent truth, fairness or reasonableness, but in fact represents and tolerates injustice, subversion and unfair treatment of the average citizen who represents himself before a system that claims to stand for "justice for all."
The judge made a comment that I should have hired an expensive attorney to represent me in court. I lost everything that I own as a result of this "police misconduct" and could not afford to pay an attorney to represent me and that is why I was representing myself in this matter. His remark to me is the epitome of injustice. To suggest that justice is only secured through high-priced attorneys is an indictment on the legal system and a slap in the face to all citizens who cannot afford expensive legal representation.
Although the court has ruled and my case has been dismissed, maybe someone should ask Mr. Fred Carpenter (former Town Manager of Payson) if he ever received a notice of claim from me, because he knows he did. Maybe he knows that he, the Mayor, the former police chief and most likely, the current police chief discussed the matter in detail.
Maybe he knows that Officer Harold and others within the Payson Police Department not only violated me, but that they violated others in the "Payson community" as well. Maybe that's the reason Mr. Carpenter stepped down from his position as town manager. Maybe he knows the truth.
I saw injustice, subversion and corruption in other countries while serving overseas in the military. I never thought I would experience it in my own country. There is little I can do to right this wrong except to express my constitutional right and to bring this injustice before those citizens who may collectively be able to bring about change to a system that has truly lost its way and has forgotten that truth, fairness, and reasonableness are the cornerstones supporting the words "liberty and justice for all."
If you have a similar experience or wish to comment, I can be reached at ASU55RP@hotmail.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this editorial.
Robin Patrick Petersen